Print This Post Email This Post
Story and pictures by Roy Nakano
Monrovia, California. Los Angeles Magazine editors picked it as one of 10 small towns that make you feel you’re out in the country. They singled out Old Town Monrovia on Myrtle Avenue in particular, which the townspeople turn into one big block party every Friday night.
Monrovia is also known as a favorite venue for the Southland’s automotive aficionados. There’s the annual Street Rods Forever in September, where Old Town Monrovia becomes the site of one of the biggest hot rod shows in the San Gabriel Valley. On the corner of Alta Vista and Chestnut, there’s Dalcorp Racing’s out-of-this-world Area 51, air-cooled VW specialists RW Racing, and The Finishing Line—all three host their own Car Night every summer. A block east on Magnolia sits Mosher’s Motors, which specializes in the restoration of Mopar muscle cars. A few doors down from Mosher’s on Magnolia is the Carburetor Shop. Every first Saturday of the month, some of the local hot rodders come out to hang out at The Burger Shack. Of course, we can’t forget that Monrovia serves as the editorial headquarters for LA Car.
And then there’s Tired Iron Works. Located on Route 66, just northeast of Old Town Monrovia, it’s the site of some of the Southland’s most amazing restorations of classic cars. From the street, the storefront is deceptively small. Once inside, however, you notice that the facility stretches back to reveal a long line of vehicles in various stages of restoration.
I paid a visit during a recent tour hosted by the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group (MOPHG). On this particular occasion, the cars in the shop included the first car penned by legendary car designer Harley Earl (a La Salle), a 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C, and one of two 1949 Buick Roadmasters from the 1988 motion picture, “Rain Man”. This one happens to be owned by Dustin Hoffman, who won an Oscar for his role as Raymond “Rain Man” Babbit in that film. On this day, the oldest car at the shop is a one-cylinder 1903 Oldsmobile.
Tired Iron Works is the work of Chris Kidd, who’s lifelong love of classic cars ultimately became his vocation. “A big break for his business came about ten years ago when the auction house Christie’s gave him the task of repairing a $4 million 2.9L Alfa Romeo that had rear-ended a Ferrari,” says MOPHG President Jim Wigton. “That contract helped cement Chris’ reputation for quality craftsmanship and led to other restoration referrals.”
Around five years ago, Chris moved Tired Iron Works from El Monte over to its current location in Monrovia. “The facility was originally a Dodge dealership,” says Chris. Just before it became Tired Iron Works, the facility was an upholstery shop. “When I sought permits to open a car shop, Monrovia turned it down,” says Chris. “Then I took a different approach and presented it as a facility to preserve historic vehicles.”
The city approved.